Album Review: Maserati – “Pyramid of the Sun”

This is a reprint from Latest Disgrace, thanks Moe!

It seems impossible to talk about Pyramid of the Sun (at least with any real depth or meaning) without also talking about Jerry Fuchs. The band’s supremely talented and tirelessly inventive drummer passed away in a tragic accident one year ago last Monday, leaving a gaping chasm in the Athens music scene that will likely never be completely filled. Fuchs was as prolific as he was gifted, manning the skins for acts as varied as LCD Soundsystem, !!!, MSTRKRFT, the Juan MacLean, and, of course, Maserati.

And if you’ve followed Maserati since those early Kindercore days, you’ll remember how spacious and huge those records sounded. They were dynamic, moody, atmospheric. But there was always something missing: some spark, a jolt of combustive energy. When Fuchs finally joined the ranks on 2007’s Inventions For the New Season, he humanized the band’s sound, countering all those stratospheric guitars and wrestling them back to Earth. The songs were more explosive, louder and more muscular. The music was still gorgeous and well-textured, but, now, much like the band’s namesake, it had speed, thrust and power.

Pyramid of the Sun marks Maserati’s final recordings with Fuchs, and you can’t help but notice how the band had in many ways become his vehicle, and just how confidently he steered it, shifting gears effortlessly between the clockwork precision of krautrock-inflected jams such as “Who Can Find the Best?” and “Oaxaca” to the more uninhibited forward lurches and grand crescendos of “Ruins” and the title track, “Pyramids of the Sun.” This isn’t to imply that the rest of the group are a bunch of slouches. On the contrary, everything else you’ve come to love and expect from the band—the skillfully intertwined, delay-heavy guitars; the propulsive bass lines; the crucial interjection of buzzing synths and electronics—ripple brilliantly along the surface while Fuchs pounds away underneath.

Just listen to the clever interplay of guitarists Coley Dennis and Matthew Cherry on “We Got the System to Fight the System,” and you’ll marvel at how they can take a simple pattern of repeating notes and patiently construct them into a pulsing, propulsive jet stream of elegantly-sculpted sound. But while Dennis and Cherry provide Maserati with its sleek, aerodynamic exterior, Fuchs is undoubtedly the band’s engine, propelling these dynamic open road jams forward.

Clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, Pyramid of the Sun flies by quickly, at least by Maserati standards. Without sacrificing complexity or ingenuity, these songs are leaner and more exhilarating than anything the band has ever done. Should we really be surprised? Fuchs’ playing was always definitively groove-focused, and never showy or superfluous. It only seems natural that over time he would be able to instill in the band a similar sense of discipline and efficiency.

Tragically, for someone who spent his adult life measuring and keeping time, dividing it into so many segments, Fuchs had so much of his taken away from him. But he made the most of what he had, as people like to say. I’ve always believed that it’s better to celebrate rather than mourn those we’ve lost. So I find it fitting that the record’s final track—and, by turn, Fuchs’ swansong—the wildly thrilling and aptly-titled “Bye M’Friend, Goodbye,” strikes such an emphatically joyous tone. It’s a stirring climax to a fantastic album, a sublime epitaph befitting a truly prodigious talent.

Latest Disgrace rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Shot From Guns rating: B-

Pyramid of the Sun Track List:
01. Who Can Find the Beast?
02. Pyramid of the Sun
03. We Got the System to Fight the System
04. They’ll No More Suffer From Thirst
05. Ruins
06. They’ll No More Suffer From Hunger
07. Oaxaca
08. Bye M’Friend, Goodbye

More Info:
Web: www.ihaveadagger.net
MySpace: www.myspace.com/maseratirocks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/maserati_band

Maserati will be performing at the Earl with Royal Thunder and Brainworlds on Friday, Nov. 19.

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